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Welcome to the first episode of “As The D.J. Turns” for 2014. I hope the new year is great to all of you and I’m excited about what the new year can bring to this blog.
Like many of you I visited family over the holidays. And when we get together, movies are on the agenda whether they be in the theater or in front of a big-screen television.
This visit, we saw four movies on television. Two were only months removed from the theater and obviously still available in non-theater formats.
“The Lone Ranger” – Over $200 million was spent on this? I still had a good time, but it was from laughing at moments that the screenwriters certainly weren’t trying to get laughs for. This movie had more moments of unbelievable and implausible action of any movie I have seen in a while. Johnny Depp was funny at times as Tonto, but that got old after a while. The movie was 149 minutes long, way too long for a summer action flick.
“The Family” – When I saw the commercial for this film when it was in the theaters, I thought it was a comedy. Robert De Niro plays a mafia boss who is in the witness protection program with his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, and their two children as they try to adjust to life in France. Tommy Lee Jones plays the FBI agent assigned to watch over them. Laughs are at a minimum and movie is not a dark comedy. It’s just dark. You certainly know where to go to see a quality mafia movie that stars De Niro.
“Brave” – I’ll be honest. I hadn’t seen a full-length animation feature in years. And the plot for this 2012 flick is not that great. Scottish princess rebels against her mother. She gets a spell put on her mother that turns her into a bear. The daughter and her mother, as a bear, grow close. Yada. Yada. Yada. But I was awed by the current state of animation in films.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” – I gave this DVD to my niece for Christmas and if it weren’t for “Casablanca”, this 1946 film would be my favorite classic of all time. It won seven Oscars, including best picture, and deserved every single one of them. Dana Andrews, Fredric March and Harold Russell play three returning World War II veterans trying to adjust to civilian life in their hometown. It’s one of the best classic films that deals with a social topic and Andrews, March and Russell quit being actors on the screen and become real people. Russell was an actual veteran and lost his hands in an explosion and had to use prostheses with mechanical hooks on the end. He had no previous acting experience, but director William Wyler, who had been a combat cameraman on bombing missions over Europe, wanted realism. It paid off big time. This is just an assumption on my part, but Russell was just being himself while aided by a first-rate script. It worked perfectly. He received two Oscars, a special one for bringing inspiration to his fellow veterans and a well-deserved best supporting actor award. Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright were also outstanding as March’s wife and daughter. I dare you not to feel moved during the last 15 minutes of the film.